Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Digital Projects

Wow...the holidays are upon us and my students have been so busy creating digital projects for Santa to see before Christmas! The next few posts on my blog will be centered around a holiday theme of our favorite apps that we love to use in our classroom. One of our favorite apps is "Explain Everything". This app has so many features that let students be creative in their own way. The lesson I chose for this particular project was in Language Arts and how to sequence events in a story. Here is the lesson workflow:

  • Teacher read book titled "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell"
  • Teacher and students created a thinking map together of the events in the story on manila paper (can also create a flow map in Popplet Lite)
  • Students used Draw Free app to illustrate pictures
  • Students took a screen shot of each picture to save to their camera roll
  • Students opened Explain Everything app and uploaded each picture to a new slide
  • Students began typing words on each slide or they could write it (they love to type though) discovered how to lock pictures and text during this process
  • After all text was completed, I pulled each student aside to begin recording each of their slides (this will be timely so be prepared)
  • I had them upload their saved project to their Google Drive from Explain Everything(must be opened in order to do this or signed into account)
  • They exported their project to the camera roll as a movie from app
  • They shared their project with teacher by email (also from the app)
  • Teacher uploaded each project to her YouTube channel to post on all social media platforms
Here are a few student samples for you to enjoy! Once again, this app continues to be a classroom favorite. Please feel free to leave comments for our students and parents to read.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blendspace To Share Content

The use of technology in lesson designing is always a priority for me when planning my lessons for the week. So this week, I used Blendspace (formerly known as Edcanvas) to plan our social studies lessons. Blenspace was my answer. I created and shared facts on each of the four customs and traditions students would be learning about. Teachers would share it with their students at the end of the week to review the customs and traditions learned. Blendspace can be a great way for teachers to learn how to share content with their students in the classroom. Then students could create their own Blendspaces in any subject like Language Arts for sequencing, problem solving for math or share images to increase vocabulary in ELL and bilingual learners. Here is the lesson I created for my team for our unit in social studies on holidays customs and traditions.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

YouTube Editor

I have been playing around with one of the new features in YouTube, the video editor tool and have fallen in love again! Last week, I read a series of books to get the fall season underway one of which was titled "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves" (I have the entire collection of books from this series) and had my students sequence the events in the story. One of my favorite apps to use for this type of activity is Popplet Lite. If you have one iPad in the classroom, the iPad could be passed around and have each student create a Popplet for the activity you are doing. I discovered another favorite app called "Draw Free" for iPad which is now my go to app for drawing pictures. The students each created their own Popplet sequencing the events in the story, took a screenshot of their Popplet and emailed it to me. I then uploaded each Popplet into YouTube slideshow editor and made a video of the student Popplets . The slideshow editor has music to choose from if you wish to add this extra component to your videos and you can customize the slideshow as well. I'm excited to learn about another cool feature in YouTube I had not been familiar with and share my student learning on a global level. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Explain This, Explain That, Explain Everything!!

I'm excited to finally be posting a few student samples of our big project using our favorite app "Explain Everything". This project started back in early October with the help of one of our district technology specialist Ann Witherspoon. The process took about two months working through all the logistics of how it was all going to come together. Pre-planning was necessary to be able to understand the workflow on our part. But what the students created and what they learned was AMAZING! This year, I transformed my classroom into a "virtual environment" that would foster this kind of learning. I have no desks and no chairs and lots of "learning spaces" throughout my classroom. This kind of environment fosters creativity that is essential in mobile device learning. It has allowed the students to have lots more freedom for collaboration and exploration in a safe and risk free environment. Our unit was dinosaurs so I began reading fiction and non fiction books on dinosaurs to begin building their vocabulary and background knowledge.

  • The students selected a dinosaur to research after books were read. 
  • Students then used the website Facts4Me to gather their research information. 
  • I created a google form of questions for students to answer that would later be used on their slides in Explain Everything. 
  • Ann uploaded the google form and the website links to my science loopers group in Edmodo.
  • The students toggled back and forth between the website/google form on their iPad to copy/paste their research
  • Ann then created  a google presentation of the dinosaur slides to share with the students in google drive. 
  • The slides were uploaded into Explain Everything from their google drive where the students began their annotations and recordings.
  • Project was uploaded to teachers Youtube channel directly from the app where parents can see their final product and give feedback to their child's work if subscribed to the channel.
Two months later the students have created their first "big" project using an amazing app that allows students to be creative in a virtual classroom. The students would love to hear any feedback you may have on their videos posted on my channel.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Third Language...26.2


My posts on my blog usually consist of the learning that's happening in my classroom or some new "app" we are excited about and want to share with the world! This post is more of a personal story, one that has some correlation to my profession. I am a 2nd-3rd grade bilingual teacher in Midlothian, Tx. The academic component of teaching a second language can be quite challenging and yet rewarding all at the same time. Its not the language my students hear at home but one that is universal and can be learned with discipline and practice. So about nine months ago, I met a group of people that would introduce me to my "new" language. I was introduced to a running group by a parent who's child was in my first grade classroom back in the day (thank you Celeste Clark ). Her daughter and sons are currently students on my campus. I began learning this new language of "running". It took discipline, commitment, more discipline, lots of time and the list goes on and on. Most of these traits are similar to my job and what I do from day to day. Commitment, discipline and time management are all part of my profession so this new language is a true correlation to my success as a runner.
     Like any new concept a teacher learns, running has quite a few of them as well. First there is the right type of running shoe and not just one but many. You must be fitted for the proper shoe. This determines how you run and what your feet are doing while you run. I know, I said the same thing..huh?? Then comes the proper clothing ( don't get me started). My apparel is quite colorful and extensive. Back to school shopping consisted of running skirts and new running shoes. Then you begin to ask questions or hear words like volume, which means how many miles a week one runs when you start increasing your distance. Then there's "the long run", that dreaded long run which boosts endurance and prepare your muscles for the challenges ahead. Here's a new term for me, LT (lactate threshold) or the point at which you start accumulating more lactic acid in your bloodstream that can be used as fuel. Of course tempo runs, intervals and repeats are ways to raise your LT. Hydration is key to your training and so is proper diet. Carbohydrates become your very best friend and you will learn to appreciate them very fast. Power foods like oranges, bananas and pretzels are your go to snacks. You can never have enough water as your body begins to crave it. How can this language have such rich vocabulary? Well, its the same in my classroom. The rich vocabulary that I need to teach my students in order for them to be successful is no different than the vocabulary I need to learn to be a better runner. But like anything new one tries, there will be setbacks. You begin to lose toenails, blisters appear, face breaks out around your mouth area, stretching is your new past time event when watching T.V. and that foam roller is your new best friend.  But let's not forget to mention the amount of food you eat when you run like this. It's a bit frightening and a little out of control. Its the same in my classroom when a strategies does not work or the students do not seem to grasp the concept. We practice again and again and that can be a little frustrating. But you never give up and keep trying new things. I have learned so much these past nine months and the language of running will forever stay with me!
     But ironically, when I began running nine months ago, my sister, who had been a runner for a couple of years, heard about my new language and family. I invited her to join our family and she did! She has been running with the club and has loved every minute of it! So here we are, nine months later, running our first full marathon in 1 week in Ft. Worth, Texas. I never imagined that this would have happened in such a short time but I'm thankful that it did. We will run side by side, give each other a hug and wish each other good luck. Talk and pray to our god when times get tough. We will think about our families both at home and at work. We will think about our students and our patients what more we can do for them. We will nourish our bodies along the way thanking god for this glorious opportunity. Our eyes focused straight ahead, listening to our breathing, singing our cadence in our head and checking our Garmins from time to time to be sure our pace is on track. We will give each other cues along the way, a thumbs up or down, a certain look, a nod to check how we are doing. These little gestures will keep us going and give us hope!
     So I dedicate this story to my family who I love dearly and for all the times I have been away and supported me through this kind of training (and there were many). To my WRC family, my coaches, new friends, who have taught me this "new language" of running and have inspired me in so many ways. Your friendships I honor and respect. To those who have been on this marathon journey or soon will be. Your support means the world to me! Lastly to my sister Dina Hernandez, who I love to the moon and back. Your support and love I hold dear to my heart! Love you to pieces. Our friends and family will be waiting for us at the finish line and we will look forward to that day! I heard a quote not to long ago about this kind of running so I would like to end my story with this quote and my favorite bible verse. "In the end a runner will run 20 miles of hope and 6 miles of reality when it all comes down to it". Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Many Roles of the Technology Specialist

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What role do our district technology specialist play? I can say that my classroom is a more productive place where learning is taking on a new dimension. Our technology specialist play such a vital role in the area of integrating technology in a teachers lesson. They also provide professional development during and after school to teachers on campus. They continue their countless hours working on projects for teachers at home (I'm one of those teachers) who are beginning a new project in their class that next week. The list goes on an on. When I get ready to plan what I call a "big project" Ann Witherspoon becomes part of that process. We begin our planning either by phone or by email and discuss what our time frame will be. These specialist are always ready at a moments notice. Their professional development is vital to our learning as the use of mobile devices become a part of our curriculum. There is never enough time for these "technology projects" to be completed or even started in a classroom that already has a jammed packed schedule of learning! My students have loved working with Ann and look forward to her visit each week because they know that they are in for a special treat. Some projects may take 2-3 weeks and that's ok. But the process of how that project will be executed is what I get excited about and the learning from both student and teacher. There will be hiccups along the way but working together as a team can help problem solve whatever issues may have been encountered along the way. Our technology specialist are so important not only to staff and administrators but to our students who will benefit the most as they learn the many wonders of this digital world. I am thankful for their knowledge and their commitment to our students in preparing them for the 21st century! I also have to salute Mrs. Melissa Bartlett and Mrs. Barbara Mikulecky our other two specialist who are part of the team. Here Ann is working with my boys on our big dinosaur project using the app Explain Everything. Students are downloading slides from a file that Ann shared with my class to their google drive. Examples of the finished project will be posted here. We can't wait to share our project with you soon!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Learning Spaces Update

Its been seven weeks since school has started and I am feeling a little compelled to give you an update on my journey into my new "learning spaces" classroom. I had the pleasure of presenting two sessions at todays @Edcampdallas and one of my sessions was on my learning spaces classroom. My journey began this past summer in San Antonio when I attended my first ever ISTE Conference and met many of my ed tech heroes through my connection with them on Twitter. It was here where my decision to give this concept a try was affirmed by other educators, not many, who decided to do the same. The first couple of weeks were a little challenging, but I love challenges, trying to grasp the logistics of the mobility level by the students in the class. I quickly figured out that "the desks and chairs" were just pieces of furniture taking up space and that they really had no "meaningful" purpose in the classroom. Where and what were the students going to use to store their school supplies? Dollar Tree came to my rescue. I bought little tubs for supplies that would be used on a daily basis like scissors, glue sticks, pencils and erasers. "Community sharing" had taken a new meaning. But what about those iPads? After all, this was my reason for going completely mobile in the first place. Those wonderful cubbies in the classroom are now the place where they are stored during transition times or when we leave to go to lunch, library and recess. 

If you're wondering what the students are writing on? Clip boards and dry erase boards are the tools for writing. Student have their own book box to store things like their math and writing journal, technology folder and whatever else you think they use on a regular basis. The book box never moves. I'm finding that students are constantly moving from one transition to the next, which is good for brain activity and allows for students to become a little more accountable for their learning. The iPad goes everywhere they go and they are not allowed to leave it lying on the floor. Its quite comical watching them hug that iPad like a book. The routines of the day have been set in place though I'm still moving furniture around to allow the mobility to flow smoothly during transition times. I have incorporated a rotation system for the two couches in my room so that the students are not fighting over who gets to use them on a daily basis. I have taken a picture of each of the couches and the pictures move along with each group during my Daily 5 management system. This may sound a little ridiculous but it has saved me lots of headaches during guided reading. They seem to like it and there are very few problems. I think its more of a "girl" issue than anything else. The boys could care less as they would rather sprawl on the floor with their buddy. 

How has this kind of learning transformed me as an educator today? Its been a big "game changer". I have started this relationship of "trust" with my students that Dave Burgess talks about in his book "Tech Like A Pirate". I have let go of some of that control that teachers struggle with. Students choose a different learning space each day if they choose. Some migrate to the same space which is fine. I'm beginning to see the collaboration between my students a little more and setting their own boundaries for learning. I brag about them when I see them working in a manner that respects others learning space by using Class Dojo as a tool to monitor behavior and making good choices. Tons and tons of modeling has been set in place and what the learning should look like. I am confident that this kind of learning will have a positive effect on my students but more so, that they begin to take "ownership" of their learning in an environment that allows taking risks without the fear of failure! My parents shared how excited they were to walk into a classroom that feels like "home" at my Meet the Teacher Night. This made my heart happy and validated my decision to give this concept a try. Next year my students will be in 3rd grade as I move up with them and I know there will be issues that will have to be addressed or not. I can't worry about that now. My students are worth the risks! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Landforms with Haiku Deck and Explain Everything Apps

Working with ELL learners requires using lots of visuals and hands on manipulatives to help support language and understanding of concept being learned. So one of my favorite apps for supporting strong visuals is Haiku Deck. The power of a picture can open the minds of young learners and tell a story. So I created a Haiku Deck to introduce my Landforms unit. My plan is for students to draw or create each of the landforms in Explain Everything. They can upload all their pictures they have created to their camera roll if they choose. They will present their presentation from this app. This will be an on going project in social studies and students will work on it during their Daily 5 stations. Here is my Landforms Haiku Deck I created.

4Pics1Word...Word Association App

I continue my search for apps that will help my students become more familiar with the English language in a bilingual classroom. Last year, one of our tutoring teachers on my campus came across a great app that helps with word associations. I am always on the hunt for apps that will help build their English vocabulary and make it fun at the same time. This app, "4Pics1Word" is a hangman type game where students must find what all four pictures have in common. They are given a certain time to unscramble the letters to make a word. The students collects a certain amount of coins if they need to use them when they get in a bind. I love this app as I use it in my Daily 5 Rotations under Working With Words. I have the students write their "new words" in their writing journal that they have learned. This is a great way to build their bank of vocabulary words and use these words in their daily writing. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Favorite Digital Storytelling App

Digital storytelling is becoming quite popular in my classroom with my favorite app that I use in all subject areas. I love using the "Write About This" app for reluctant writers who struggle with getting started with writing. Last week, I introduced the math stations using student iPads. The students played their game in their station for that day. They were to take a picture of the math game after they finished playing it and write anything they could tell me about that game. Then they recorded their voice from the writing they had done and shared their movie with me via email. This app also helps with fluency and vocabulary recognition of certain words we study in math, science or language arts. As the year goes on, students can create their own stories and write about them. Here are some student samples from that math lesson. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Oh What Have I Done?

My first week of school is under my belt and I have to say that it was a bit challenging with no desks and no chairs that I started to think to myself, "what have I done?" Like any other new tool, schedule, rule or even an increase in student enrollment, trying new and innovative ideas can be a challenge with younger students. This year when I returned from ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, I was surrounded by greatness, educators who ignited my passion for teaching, sharing their ideas, success stories and so much more in a 21st century world! So when I returned to Midlothian Texas the end of June, I decided to take on the biggest challenge I would ever take in my 23 years of educating desks and no chairs in a 2nd grade classroom!! You see, I am a 1:1 ipad classroom so the inspiration behind such a classroom came from a blog post that I had read this summer. Erin Klein, who I met this year at ISTE 2013, had designed her classroom to have no desks and no chairs. I immediately fell in love with this idea and the way she had "transformed' her classroom into an environment that would change the way students collaborate, think and learn creatively!

I had heard success stories from a few of my very close friends and educators like Todd Nesloney, Jake Duncan, Wendy Sanders, Rafranz Davis and many more on various topics and the new things they had tried in their classroom. I was instantly inspired by their passions and wanted to have this kind of passion myself. You see, these educators are all about innovating the minds of young and older students in a way that will challenge them beyond their imagination! So the challenges became very evident as they had no desks to store their supplies, journals, pencils, etc. The hardest challenge was the "traffic flow" from one transition to the next as they had no place to put their ipads, clipboards for writing, assignments that were not finished. I thought I was prepared as I had created "community sharing buckets" where students placed their scissors, crayons, glue sticks to share. A friend of mine once shared this quote with me, "you will always be prepared, never ready"! Boy was that a true statement last week. Heaven forbid an ipad would be stepped on or left just lying there on the floor. Each day posed a new challenge and I changed my structure everyday to help with the "flow" of the classroom. Thank goodness for cubbies in the classroom. These would become my life saviors for quick storage places. I'm still tweaking and tweaking until we do get somewhat of a structured schedule. It's only the second week of school and already I'm expecting things to flow. What am I thinking? They are only in 2nd grade for crying out loud!! But here's the good news, next year they will be in 3rd as I loop with them so that is what I will be looking forwards too.

I'm reminded by my dear friends mentioned above that taking risks are the reasons why I do what I do....teach with PASSION! Challenges will come and go but I will choose not to let this challenge bring anxiety, maybe a little frustration or even change my mind. Not once did my students feel like they were tired or lost but inspired by the new challenges to learn in an environment that would bring innovative learning and a whole lot more collaboration amongst each other. My successes and failures are what inspire me to try new and innovative ways to change the minds of young learners. This WILL work and we will have our success story to share with the world. I am thankful for those educators before me who have taken risks and continue to take those risks and NEVER give up no matter what. After all, I would not be where I am today if it were not for them! I look up to them and their passion is contagious and so inspiring. So here is a sneak peek of our first week of school in a classroom with no desks and no chairs! Thank you Todd, Wendy, Jake, Erin and Rafranz for your friendship, but most of all, your eagerness to change the minds of young children in a 21st century world that is constantly changing at the speed of light! I'm going to "teach like a pirate" and soar beyond new adventures! Please feel free to leave a comment or share any ideas you may in making this challenge a success!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bloglovin...My New Favorite Blog Site

I am constantly looking for ways to keep track of the blogs I follow. I love waking up on a Saturday morning, drink my coffee as I read through my favorite blogs to get ideas and share with others. This summer I bumped into Bloglovin and have loved getting updates on my favorite blogs! Its so user friendly and I love the platform. Since Google discontinued Reader, this has been a great way to replace my weekly reading! You can also bookmark the website on your iPad/iPhone for anytime reading. Check it out and see what you think. Happy Bloglovin!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Leading Learning Organization

As a teacher and technology liaison in my district, I constantly am asking myself, "how am I making a difference in students learning?" Am I designing innovative lessons that will drive student learning and collaboration?" "Do my students take risks in their learning in this fast paced digital age?" I am proud to say that the district I am a part of allows for this kind of learning to take place. Midlothian ISD and its leaders strongly believe that we are striving to be The Leading Learning Organization in the Nation in the field of technology. Our superintendent Dr. Jerome Stewart shared with me four key points that are critical to innovative learning:

  • The Project Launch Initiative- leap into 21st Century Learning that uses the practical experiences of teacher volunteers to "transform" classrooms into technology-rich learning environments and where teachers can "dream big and have fun"
  • Another Project Launch (still in the early stages) where BYOD is the focus for tools to create a 21st Century Learning environment. Again, teacher volunteers and their students teaching the district what works and what does not work
  • Staying true to our vision and striving to be The Leading Learning Organization where technology is not the destination but one tool on that learning journey
  • The district expectations for innovative learning in the classroom and what that might look like at all grade levels. With innovation comes successes and failures where students and teachers learn from those experiences
At the campus level, my principal Kyle Chambers has a few innovative ways that positively will affect our students and parents communication this next school year. One way he is leading our district into this digital age learning is by having his staff use +Remind101 as a tool to effectively push vital campus/teacher information out to our parents. He shared with me these words, "as a leader in education, you have to evolve with this digital age world and that requires continuous learning". Texting is the quickest and most efficient way to connect with others. This tool will allow our parents to receive classroom information one way and bridge the communication gap with our community. Teachers can reinforce staying connected in @remind101 to help reduce that gap in communication. I am very excited about the new and innovative ways our leaders in our district have shared with me for this next 2013-2014 school year. Midlothian ISD will continue on this journey to be The Leading Learning Organization in the Nation!

You can follow Dr. Jerome Stewart and Kyle Chambers on Twitter:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning Spaces Goes Mobile!

Its hard to imagine that summer is over and students will be returning to school soon. Some have already started their school year. My summer was filled with lots of professional development in technology. I attended my very first ISTE Conference in San Antonio, Texas and met many technology leaders that I am connected with via Twitter, Google + and Instagram. I also attended Edcamp Ft. Worth in Keller, Texas to continue my learning. I had several discussions with teachers and technology specialist on the topic of "learning spaces" and what that would look like at the primary level. I was inspired by the learning spaces I saw at this middle school. So this year, I am going out on a limb and for the first time in my educational career will not have desks or chairs in my classroom. My decision for implementing this type of learning came from the many discussions I had with teachers who have had success stories in their classrooms. My goals are to foster lots more collaboration between my students and have more student driven learning in this type of environment. In a 1:1 ipad classroom, students need to be able to "freely" engage in conversations that will foster a deeper level of thinking without the constraints of a desk or chair. I wanted to create a safe and secure environment that would foster this kind of learning and begin building a relationship of "trust" between teacher and student. This year I will be in 2nd grade and then loop up with my students to 3rd the following year. Here is a sneek peek of my classroom and my new "learning spaces". I am really excited and hope to share my success stories as well. Please feel free to share or comment your success stories.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bitter Sweet Farewell

As the year comes to an end, I am filled with mixed emotions about letting go of my 3rd grade students! This year, my bilingual students were part of our districts first Project Launch iPad Initiative Program. Our districts first roll out of 1:1 iPad in the classroom proved to be the "most positive learning experience" for my students this year. Though our time was short, 4 months of using the iPad, I feel that the learning and the creativity my students showed helped them in so many ways! They not only transformed their learning in a more creative way, they transformed their teacher to always be a life long learner! The discoveries were endless as we were challenged in many ways. The deeper level of thinking became obvious as students kept pushing their limit in their creativity and taking ownership of their learning. This kind of learning "excited" me on a daily basis! It challenged me to "design" lessons that would keep that level of creativity high and engaging. They have gained a sense of confidence in their learning, have asked more questions than before and have no "fear" of the unknown. These are reasons I feel confident as their teacher sending them on to 4th grade. They have forever "transformed" me as an educator. Their successes and failures I will forever treasure the rest of my life! I hope I have made a small difference in their learning because they have made a HUGE difference in MY learning!! My "iPad Ninjas", as they like to be referred as, will be sharing their learning with teachers and students next year! They made a promise to me so I'm confident that they will keep that promise! Next year I begin with a new group of 2nd graders who will follow in these footsteps for the next two years!! This excites me more!!! I'm ready for that journey and its "new discoveries"!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Having Trouble with Students Writing?

As a bilingual teacher, one of the challenges I continue to have each year in my class is how to get students to develop good writing skills as second language learners. A couple of weeks ago, I did a little investigating on the internet and came across an app called "Write About This". I downloaded the free version on my ipad and realized how this app could get my students thinking about their writing. I loved the many wonderful features it provided for students especially the voice prompts. As second language learners, this feature appealed to me as an important part of the app to help with english language development. The students can also create their own stories by uploading photos from their camera roll or from the internet. What a great way to get students writing about their own personal experiences. I have integrated the use of this app into math and science which has really helped my students with problem solving and science investigations. This app can also be incorporated into a writing center or into a Daily 5 Classroom Management model. Since we are a 1:1 ipad classroom, I purchased the app for all my students and they write and work on their stories everyday in our Daily 5 Language Arts rotations. Stories can be shared with classroom teacher which allows for a default email in the settings. The pictures below were from our grade level field trip to the Planetarium at the University of Texas in Arlington, Tx. The students wrote what they had learned on the field trip. I am so excited about using this app with my new 2nd graders next year as I loop back down and start with a brand new group of students!! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Popplet Lite App in All Subject Levels

As the year is coming to an end, I am constantly evaluating the apps that seem to be versatile in all subject areas. The Popplet Lite app is one of those apps that students use to organize their thoughts when they are writing. I continue to use this app in all subject areas especially in reading when students are identifying the main idea of a story. Here, I read the book titled "Peter Rabbit", one of my favorites to read around the Easter holiday. I asked the students to choose one or two sentences from the story and identify the main idea. Students listed 3-4 supporting details along with their main idea and emailed their completed Popplet to me when they were finished with activity. Here is one example of how Popplet can help students in reading language arts.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Multicultural Goes Mobile

Working on a Title 1 campus brings such diversity in student culture. Each year, more and more students enroll from all over the world. We have many continents represented on my campus from the staff (bilingual teachers) to the students themselves. So we celebrate that diversity by learning about each others culture. This year for our Multicultural unit, my class chose to study the country of Ireland. Our ipads went mobile and the reflection from todays events took my breath away. We brainstormed a list of things that we could include on our "quilt" that we were going to piece together. So I assigned the task to my students and for the next hour and a half, I watched them in AWE as they used every resource I had taught them using their ipad. The conversations I heard and the collaboration I saw was MAGICAL! I saw students "chirping" out links to others who needed images, Doodle Buddy app in action, one student said "email" that image to Mrs. Lackey so she can print it out. I also heard, "that image is too big. You need to crop it before you save it to your camera roll". One student noticed how busy I was trying to "piece the quilt" that she took over my desktop computer and started printing the images the students had emailed me from my google account.

The Gmail interface was familiar to them because they check their email each Monday morning. Unbelievable and truly my most proudest moment in my 23 years of teaching. How is this possible in a 3rd grade bilingual classroom? It's possible because my students have taken "ownership" of their learning and they are fearless when it comes to technology learning! They continue to amaze me each and every day! Here are my students in action as they continue to pave the way for others to follow. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

State Testing Has Not Slowed Us Down

State assessments are here! What does that mean? It means that students will show what they have been taught all year in reading, math and science. It's just another assessment that seems to bring so much anxiety, stress and much more. Seems like it would slow things down but in my class, we continue to march forward with mobile device learning to create our "own kinda learning" using ipads. Learning in our classroom has not slowed us down one bit. As the year comes to an end, our last and final project is almost complete. The students have been using the Book Creator app to publish their first iBook. We began our study of maps in Social Studies and the many features of a map. So they began designing various kinds of maps on Doodle Buddy and importing them into Book Creator adding text and customizing each page of their book. The finished products will soon be revealed here on my blog after "testing week" has passed and been forgotten (no ipads for 2 days) what shall we do? I tell them this too shall pass.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mapping Our Way Using Doodle Buddy

This past week in social studies we have dived right into maps and geography terms that help students comprehend various kinds of maps and their features. Vocabulary terms were introduced at the beginning of the week so that students would be able to design their own map using one of our favorite apps...Doodle Buddy! It has basically become our best friend in all subject areas. I read a book titled "Mapping Penny's World" to introduce the unit. We discussed the various components of maps like symbol, map key, compass rose, etc. Then I had the students work in groups using Doodle Buddy to design a map of their bedroom. They were to label their map and upload it to their google drive where I would compile them in a shared folder I had created. I am always amazed at the level of creativity these students show and how the app enhances a level of high engagement and learning! Here are a few samples of those "bedroom maps". This project will help students next week when they begin to design their own island/or country using all the components of a map (vocabulary terms) that they have learned. Doodle Buddy again, a big hit with ELL/Bilingual learners.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Flip Class Model With Brainpop Jr.

Brainpop Jr. and the Flip Class Model...Maximizing Instructional Time

Each time science and social studies comes around in my lesson planning, Brainpop Jr. always come to the rescue! How do I use Brainpop Jr. in a flip class model? Several weeks back, we learned all about Civil Rights Heroes in Social Studies and what they contributed to our nations history. Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. are a just a few we had discussed . Each week, I send out a gmail to my students letting them know what we will be learning in each subject that week. So, I had the students watch the video on their ipads on Rosa Parks before we started the lesson in social studies. After they came back from recess, we were ready to discuss her works. I had shaved off about 20 minutes of instructional time because they had watched the video before going out to recess. They began to complete their assignment on Rosa Parks independently and after they finished the assignment, they took the easy electronic quiz on Brainpop Jr. and I got an instant grade on their quiz. I walked around with my ipad and entered their grade in Powerschool. The seamless integration of mobile device learning and harnessing the power of a flip model lesson saved me lots of instructional time. But the greatest realization was that the flip model lesson is a great example of how teachers can maximize classroom instruction effectively and for students to take ownership of their learning without me instructing all the time. 

Harnessing the Power of Gmail

Gmail in a 1:1 iPad Classroom           

Last week I came across an idea from a colleague of mine who works on another campus on how she was "harnessing the power" of gmail in a 1:1 ipad classroom. I decided to try it out in my classroom and it has changed how I manage my time more effectively when it comes to instruction. I sit down each Sunday afternoon and look at what I'm teaching that week and begin to gather all my resources. Every Monday morning after announcements have been read by my principal, my students get their ipads, open their gmail account and begin reading the days schedule. I give them a short time to ask questions about the days activities or questions about the apps they will be using. They begin their assignments and I begin my small group instruction immediately. If they have any questions, they must C3B4Me classmates as to not interfere with my small groups. There are many savvy experts in my class who always come to the rescue and they love helping others. Here is a sample email I send out on Sunday night or early that Monday morning! Thank you Deanna Edminster for this wonderful idea. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

TodaysMeet...Another Way to Share in Real Time

Each week, I try to introduce the students to new tools for collaborating and sharing in real time. One of those tools is TodaysMeet. I have been reading Bryan Chicks's book series The Secret Zoo. I have read all three books in this series and I am reading the final book before they go off to 4th grade. TodaysMeet has helped my students analyze characters, summarize paragraphs, identify cause and effect in certain situations and deepen vocabulary in math and science. This was the first time that they had used TodaysMeet using their ipad. Not only did they like it, they LOVED it! One of my students replied, "this is just like texting Mrs. Lackey and its so much fun". I had the projector on so they could read the feed on the big screen. I decided to turn it off. I typed a silly question for them to answer mentioning certain students in my question. It was so much fun to see them turning around  looking at each other giggling from ear to ear as they kept reading the feed on their ipad. Needless to say, it was a big hit and I will continue to use TodaysMeet in other subject areas like math and science to strengthen their spelling and writing skills.